Review: A Little Night Magic by Lucy March

Sunday, February 12, 2012
Genre: supernatural fiction, romance novel-ish
Series: Untitled #1
Pages: 322 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: January 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Olivia Kiskey needs a change. She’s been working at the same Nodaway Falls, New York, waffle house since she was a teenager; not a lot of upward mobility there. She’s been in love with Tobias, the cook, for the last four years; he’s never made a move. Every Saturday night, she gathers with her three best friends—Peach, Millie, and Stacy—and drinks the same margaritas while listening to the same old stories. Intent on shaking things up, she puts her house on the market, buys a one-way ticket to Europe, and announces her plans to her friends . . . but then she meets Davina Granville, a strange and mystical Southern woman who shows Olivia that there is more to her life than she ever dreamed. 

As Liv’s latent magical powers come to the surface, she discovers that having an interesting life is maybe not all it’s cracked up to be. The dark side of someone else’s magic is taking over good people in town, and changing them into vessels of malevolence. Unwilling to cede her home to darkness, she battles the demons of her familial past and her magical present, with those she loves at her side . . . and in the cross fire. Can the most important things in life—friendship, love, magic, and waffles—get her through the worst that the universe can throw at her?

I enjoyed this so, so much. I think I read the entire thing with a smile on my face, or actually giggling (out loud!)at what the characters said. This was exactly what I was looking for after such an emotionally wrenching read, like the one I just finished (The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy). This is the perfect kind of bubblegum book - tasteful, not too lengthy and just so adorable. As soon as I closed the metaphoric cover (as this was an e-galley) I went online to see when/if any sequels were planned. Lucky me (and you, should you dear reader, take a chance on this hidden gem) there's at least one other adventure set in this series to be had: That Touch of Magic, though it is not due to be released until 2013(!). 

Olivia takes the cake as one of my all-time favorite heroines.  Not only can this girl banter with her love interest (I love witty back and forth, something Olivia does ably and often), she's smart, snarky, self-aware and interestingly flawed. Nearly every chapter Liv would do/say something that just utterly reinforced my love for her. My personal favorite bon mots and sentences from this spunky waitress with a waffle addiction: 

"Spontaneity without commitment is just wishful thinking."

"[Skinny jeans] are the jeans that you buy that are too small so that someday you can wear them and feel awesome." "There are so many things wrong with that sentence. I don't even know where to start. " "It's okay. This is advanced self-loathing. You'd have to be a woman to understand it at this level."
"While I had the standard waitress's upper body strength, I sadly lacked the standard waitress's thirst for blood."

"I don't care what Edward did in the Twilight books, watching a girl sleep is just creepy."
It's easy to tell I invested in this character both immediately and abundantly. It's very easy to relate to the 28 year old waitress: Liv's voice is strong, enjoyably consisten and lively from the outset. This is just a fun book to read - it's almost effortless. Liv is a great character, and one of the few female leads that seems to have her head on her shoulders, romantically speaking.

Speaking of the romance, I must add that I absolutely adored everything about Tobias and Olivia. In a novel that is more character-driven, as is the case here, the characters need to strong, realized people to hold up the novel's weight. Ms. March has done so accordingly here: not only Liv is rounded out and characterized: Tobias, Peach, Stacy, Millie - all are unique with interesting facets. I must admit that besides Liv, Tobais is my favorite. What helps his case is the dynamic between him and Olivia: these two have chemistry and both amusing and snarky dialogues often (Olivia: "Why are you looking at me like that?" Tobias: "This is my standard expression when stating into an abyss."). Their alternatively relaxed and charfged interplay, the give-and-take of the "will they, won't they" were all very well handled: this never felt like a shallow romance or a ploy for drama. It's a believable attraction, easy to root for and all the more engrossing because I actively wanted the two together, despite all obstacles.

Though I've labeled this as a "supernatural/paranormal fiction" type of novel, the magic aspect is quite shallow and underdeveloped - while I liked the information and details that were provided about the 'Magicals' and conjurers of Olivia's world, there just wasn't enough. The system of 'day magic' and 'night magic' is an interesting twist on abilities and powers, but what exactly determines which allegiance a Magical belongs to? <SPOILER> If it's dependent on genes and family traits, how did Olivia have day magic and her sister Holly night magic?</SPOILER> How exactly do these powers work? Where do they come from? Questions aside, Olivia's animating magic created some of the cutest-sounded but odd pets I've heard of: a mug bunny, a bat phone, a trashcan lid dog. . . at least the author went off the beaten path - I definitely appreciate the may and varied touches of individuality throughout the story. 

I loved the ending. I loved the beginning. The middle had its moments of weakness and predictability (especially in regards to the big reveal/Tobias's reticence) but overall, it held up well and tied together the delightful endpieces of the novel. Though the magic aspect may leave a little to be desired, the wonderful, cute characters more than took up the slack. I want more, and I want it now.

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